Thursday, 5 July 2018

Spurr In Line For Bonus

Another year of unbridled failure at HMPPS will no doubt mean Michael Spurr will be in line for another bonus. This from Civil Service World:-

Prisons chief outlines ‘significant operational issues’ in annual report

HMPPS delayed roll out of programme to reduce suicide, self-harm and violence levels because of ‘unanticipated’ spike in inmate numbers

HM Prison and Probation Service was forced to press pause on the implementation of a new staffing model designed to help reduce rates of suicide, self-harm and violence because of an unexpected hike in inmate numbers last summer, its annual report has conceded.

Chief executive Michael Spurr said it was regrettable that progress on implementing the service’s new Offender Management in Custody model, which increases staffing on residential units and allocates a “key worker” to every prisoner had to be delayed “due to a sharp, unanticipated rise in the prison population”.

In HMPPS’ annual report, Spurr conceded that the last few years had been “particularly challenging” for the prison and probation services, and that the last 12 months had brought “significant operational issues, particularly around safety and living conditions in prisons and in the quality of community supervision for many low and medium risk offenders”.

The report said that in addition to the rise in prisoner numbers, rising levels of vandalism had “further compounded” pressure on the prisons system, increasingly forcing HMPPS to “delay planned maintenance works, re-open accommodation and delay closures”.

HMP Bedford was one prison brought back into use to deal with the increase in need for secure accommodation, while HMP Rochester and HMP Hindley saw their closures deferred. “Although demand has decreased so far during 2018, the underlying trend remains upwards,” the report said.

It said projected prisoner levels were due to hit 88,000 in 2021-22, around 5,000 higher than the current level, according to statistics published last week.

In addition to overcrowding and rising violence levels – attacks on prison officers were up 23% in the year to December, HMPPS had to deal with January’s collapse of construction and outsourcing giant Carillion, which provided facilities management services for 52 prisons, and the failure of most Community Rehabilitation Companies to meet their reoffending-reduction targets.

The report also detailed a £35m underspend – which it described as representing 1% on its annual resource budget “attributable to delays in recruitment and contractual settlements with CRCs”. However it said the underspend was offset by increased expenditure across the facilities management contract and incremental recruitment costs for delivering Prison Officer Entry Level Training programme.

Positive news in the report included “significant inroads” in prison officer recruitment, which saw HMPPS hit its target of hiring 2,500 additional staff more than nine months ahead of a target set by then-justice secretary Liz Truss in 2015. However it admitted that the retention of staff was “still an issue in a number of locations … for reasons which are complex and vary from prison to prison”.

The report said: “We are taking action to support those prisons with the highest attrition and have developed a toolkit and targeted resources to support sites where there are particular challenges.” It gave Spurr’s salary range as £145,000-£150,000, some £10,000 ahead of the bracket attributed to executive director of prisons Phil Copple.


Managing Offenders in the Community 

In the 2017-18 HMPPS Business Plan, we committed to deliver a more efficient probation service that integrated community services better with those in the custodial setting while continuing to provide effective advice to the courts, manage offenders safely in the community and provide a service to victims. This is delivered through the NPS and CRCs. One of the major tools in managing offenders in the community is Electronic Monitoring (EM). 

The National Probation Service 
The highest-risk offenders are managed by the NPS. This is a critical public service and it is essential that we ensure services are delivered effectively. 

Over the last year we have met the commitments set out in our Business Plan primarily by completing a significant change programme that has standardised and made more efficient the core processes of the NPS. The E3 Change Programme sought to identify the best practice from across England and Wales and embed it in all business areas. As a result of this work, we now deliver more reports to courts on the day of request (supporting the work of our partners in the criminal justice system to deliver speedy justice). 

We are committed to integrating our services better with those provided in custody. We have spent the last year working closely with our prison colleagues to help design a new OMiC model of delivery and this year we begin the process of full implementation. This will ensure there is a more effective transition for offenders who are released on licence and that the risk-management and offender sentence-planning skills of probation officers are embedded within the prison setting. 

To further improve the service we provide to the courts, we have developed a new Smart Proposals tool that ensures all our court report writers have access to the full list of available and suitable interventions provided by the NPS and by the CRCs. This tool will ensure we deliver consistent sentence recommendations in all courts. 

We also provide a service for victims of serious sexual or violent offences, to enable them to receive information about the progress of the offender’s sentence and any significant milestones, such as a Parole Board review. We have developed our service to enhance the functionality of the Victim Contact Scheme: this enables Victim Liaison Officers to have access to more comprehensive data to support the assistance we give to victims. 

We have continued to recruit additional probation professionals into the NPS to enable us to further develop the services we provide. In 2017-18, we recruited almost 1,000 trainee probation officers and probation service officers. 

Community Rehabilitation Companies 
In 2017-18, we conducted a comprehensive review of the CRC performance framework to remove duplication and avoid potential for perverse incentives.

It was accepted that the CRCs fixed costs were not adequate to ensure the delivery of services to the required quality, as stipulated within the contract. In June 2017, we made a contractual change, varying the payment mechanism to reflect more accurately the level of CRCs’ fixed costs. We anticipate that this change will enable CRCs to be better able to operate effectively. 

There has been a general improvement in service level performance across CRCs for 2017-18. These changes have made a positive impact, but with further pressure resulting from the payment by results metrics, the financial pressures on CRCs will continue to present risks which require managing in the years ahead. 

Our contract management teams robustly manage compliance with contracts. Where a provider is not performing satisfactorily, we may impose a contractually binding ‘Improvement Plan’ setting out the actions to be taken, apply a ‘Service Credit’ to compensate us for our losses or, ultimately, terminate a contract for material breach. To date 67 ‘Improvement Plans’ have been put in place, 38 of which have been completed and removed, with 29 remaining in place. 

In April 2017, we initiated a Whole System Improvement Programme. Phase one of the programme ran until December 2017. During this time we have confirmed case allocation was operating as intended, refreshed best practice guidance and collected and analysed CRC workforce data so we better understand our fixed cost base. 

Phase two of the programme is now underway with 10 workstreams looking to improve areas such as: how we share risk information more effectively; better collection and use of feedback from service users; and identifying and dissemination of good practice. 

In August 2017, we introduced the Home Detention Curfew Taskforce to respond to concerns about the rising prison population. We have worked with CRCs to improve the timeliness and quality of their response to prison requests for Home Circumstance Reports; significant progress has been made. This was achieved during a substantial increase in volumes. Learning has been incorporated into a revised Probation Instruction issued in March 2018. 

Electronic Monitoring (EM) 
One of the tools used to manage offenders in the community is EM. There were 63,400 new EM notifications in 2016-17. (The figure for 2017-18 will be published in the Annual HMPPS Digest 2017-18 on 26 July 2018). On an average day there are around 11,000 individuals being electronically monitored. 

In 2017-18 the EM provider reported undertaking over 280,000 visits to the home of subjects to install equipment, ensure appropriate monitoring and decommission the equipment at the end of the order. This is in addition to the telephone contacts that are made to individuals to encourage compliance and provide support.

During the year there have been improvements in the accuracy, speed and nature of information provided to stakeholders to ensure enforcement of orders is swift and effective. Joint work with colleagues in HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has ensured any vulnerabilities between agency interfaces are understood and managed. 

Work has also continued on the next generation of EM. Our EM Programme is responsible for developing a new national service, which will allow us to monitor offenders more effectively and innovatively to support wider justice system reform. The new service will continue to offer the ability to monitor and enforce curfew conditions while also providing a new location monitoring capability learning from a MoJ GPS pilot. 

The MoJ GPS pilot to test how the availability and use of GPS tags may affect the behaviour of decision makers and offenders, finished on schedule on 31 March 2018. During the pilot more than 600 tags were imposed, demonstrating a clear demand for GPS tags as a location monitoring tool for subjects on court bail, home detention curfew and those managed on licence. The pilot also demonstrated the demand for a tag that can monitor both location and curfew in parallel, as around half of the tags imposed had both requirements. 

Our programme team is working with our suppliers to agree a plan and it is anticipated that the new EM service will be in place in 2019. The contract to provide the EM hardware services was successfully awarded to G4S in June 2017 and signed in November 2017. This followed a negotiated procurement competition in line with EU Public Procurement regulations. Work is underway to incorporate the integration of G4S as the EM hardware provider.


  1. Perhaps the 1% underspend could have been used to address issues in the probation service such as wages terms and conditions

    1. Very true..but in recruiting 1000 probation staff they are not having recruitment problems. Pay will flounder in probation until the workforce agitate for more and translate their infamous 'low morale' into demands for increases backed up with some industrial muscle. As there is no political pressure to pay more, wages will continue to erode.

  2. Ah gps provided by g4s who is still under investigation for fraud

  3. So Spurr gets a bonus for being a failure, while the probation staff under him holding HMPPS together are poorly paid for their hard work!!



    1. Probation service hostel worker

      Call to police: "We need urgent assistance, a resident is outside, being extremely abusive and banging on the windows." Is anyone being physically attacked? "Not yet." Then you are not a priority.

      No police arrive, despite this resident being recalled to prison for his abusive behaviour that morning.

      Previously, all staff would need to do would be to pull their personal alarms and the police would be there in two minutes. Now an agency rings back and asks if the police are really required to attend.

      A violent offender fails to return to hostel for curfew. Procedures mean we must verify if the resident is in hospital or has been arrested before he can be recalled to prison for missing his curfew.

      We stay on the phone for ages but neither the police nor the NHS are answering. They are stretched to the limit too.

      Probation hostels have several roles, rehabilitation of offenders and protecting the public are the main ones. We work with some of the most violent criminals. Yet our pay has not gone up since 2008. Its £10.30 an hour plus shift allowances. I believe I could earn more working in a supermarket.

      In addition, since the rest of the probation service was privatised, we have lost allowances. Before then, if we worked a nightshift on a bank holiday, we would be paid the nightshift allowance and the bank holiday allowance. Now we only get one of those allowances.

      The hostels were not an attractive proposition for privatisation but it is widely believed by staff that recent changes were made in preparation for it. They don't make sense otherwise. Long-standing, experienced staff (and trust me, you need experience in this job) have been transferred to other roles. New members of staff are paid less.

      They have totally inadequate training, done on the cheap, before they are considered 'trained' to know what to do in a variety of scenarios where staff or the public might be at risk.

      There are two hostel workers at night. We need to rely on each other for our own safety. Yet one member of staff each night is supplied by an agency, Sodexo, appointed sometimes on the strength of a telephone interview.

      Shift patterns have changed without seemingly any thought to the impact on working practices. Staff morale is low. We have previously been very proud of the service we provide to offenders in helping them in their transition from prison. And to the public in monitoring resident behaviour and being alert to signs that they may be likely to reoffend.

      The deterioration in the service, working conditions and pay have been brought about with barely a whimper from the unions concerned (Unison and Napo). But the anger is simmering and palpable. We fear that it is only a matter of time before something goes badly wrong.

      We need:

      Unions that will fight for their members and against privatisation

      A fully funded, well-resourced public sector

      Democratic accountability of the police and judicial system

    2. The unions can only fight for members if those members whose anger is allegedly 'simmering and palpable' get involved in some actual agitation. The reality is they moan and groan, blame the unions whose only power resides in the willingness of members to take action. As members don't even bother to vote in elections, never mind indicative ballots, nothing will change. They should join a church instead of a trade union as it seems they are waiting for divine intervention. It's so damn sad that there is no political nous amongst the membership. Don't moan - ORGANISE.

    3. I agree with the point but the union could do more to; communicate, recruit, gather views and organise.

      Social media is much underused. There should be a NAPO App. When a railway member of staff is sacked information is sent out far and wide as to the unfairness and how staff must defend workers rights and their colleague. They have a bit of umph about them. Members views are obtained. The union needs to be proactive not just sitting back blaming the membership. In a bullying environment it is not easy for stressed out overworked people to organise. The union needs to enable.

    4. Dean Rogers is the Napo reps leader no employment tribunals record as none taken says it all.

    5. Recalled for “abusive behaviour “! I thought those days of oppression were over!